how can I find a job in another state without moving there first?

A reader writes:

I got my master’s degree last year and have been fully immersed in job searching since then. I desperately want to move out of my state and am sending resumes and cover letters all over the country. I have stated clearly on both my resume and cover letter that I am willing to move and have a couple lines in my cover letter about how I’m eager to live in whichever place that letter is going to. I also tailor each cover letter to each job application, so I’m pretty certain it’s not an issue of my cover letters reading like impersonal form letters.

Despite this, I am not getting interviews outside of my area. I’ve only gotten interviews for places that are local to me. Jobs in my field are not remote, and moving first and then finding a job once I’m there is not a feasible option for me. Is there something else I should be doing to advertise that I really am willing to move? Or do you think my not getting interviews has nothing to do with location at all?

If you’re getting interviews locally but not out of state, it’s almost definitely about location. It can just be a lot harder to find a job when you’re not local to the area you’re applying in. (Fully remote jobs are a different story, of course, but they’re not the ones you’re targeting.)

There are lots of reasons employers are hesitant to interview nonlocal candidates. Much of it has to do with convenience: It’s assumed you generally won’t be able to come in for an interview with only a few days’ notice or to stop by for an impromptu meeting with a decision-maker whose schedule just had a rare opening and that you probably won’t be able to start as soon as a local candidate could. It’s also more expensive for companies to interview out-of-state candidates (at least it should be since they should cover your travel expenses, though not every employer does). And while virtual interviewing has made distance much less of an issue than it used to be, a lot of non-remote workplaces still rely on face-to-face interviewing since that’s how they’re used to conducting business.

Employers may also worry that you’ll expect them to pay your relocation costs if they hire you, which might not be something they’ll do, depending on the circumstances. And because you’d be moving to a new area, some managers see out-of-town candidates as more of a risk. They don’t know if you’ll end up adjusting well to the new city or whether you’ll end up missing home and moving back.

Since any one of these variables can be a hassle, if an employer has plenty of well-qualified local applicants, they often don’t have enough incentive to consider remote candidates. If they can make a strong hire without any of the drawbacks of long-distance hiring, it can make sense to just focus locally.

Of course, this isn’t true for every role. If you’re looking at fairly junior positions without specialized skill sets, distance is more likely to be an obstacle because there are probably plenty of local applicants who meet the requirements. But as you become more senior — or if you’re in a field where your skills are in high demand — employers often will care less about where you’re located. It’s a workers’ market for many jobs right now, and when that limits employers’ options, they’ll generally broaden the pool of applicants they’re willing to consider.

But because you’re concerned it’s an issue in your job search, there are things you can try that might improve your chances:

Explain your reasons for moving in your cover letter.

It sounds as if you’re already doing this, but look for ways to peg it to something that will feel solid and reliable to the employer. “I hear you have beautiful beaches” won’t be as convincing as “I have family in the area and am excited to join them” or “My partner recently accepted a job there” or even “I’ve visited multiple times and have long planned to make my home there.” (And while I’m not encouraging you to misrepresent your situation, the reality is they’re unlikely to know if you do.)

The more you can make your move seem like a done deal, the better.

Ideally, you’d be able to say your move is already in progress or give a time frame by which you expect to be living in the new area. That doesn’t sound like your situation, but you can fudge it a little by, for example, listing the new location on your résumé. I don’t mean you should make up a fake local address, but there’s no reason you can’t put “(relocating to Boston)” directly below your contact info. After all, you will be relocating if you get this job; it’s not stretching the truth too much for your résumé to reflect that.

Alternately, don’t list a location on your résumé at all.

It’s grown increasingly normal to see résumés with no mailing addresses on them. That used to be an immediate sign to hiring managers that the candidate was trying to hide their location, but it’s become such a common practice that it’s unlikely to raise red flags now. Your location will probably come up at some point in the interview process, but leaving it off your résumé can help you get through the initial screening. (Of course, many jobs ask you to fill out electronic applications that require you to note your city and state, so this method isn’t foolproof — but it’s worth a shot to see if it changes your response rate.)

Make it as easy as possible for employers to interview and hire you.

If you’re willing to cover your own travel costs and relocation expenses, state that up front in your cover letter. And be as flexible as you can about a start date. For example, ideally you wouldn’t tell employers that it will take you six weeks to relocate when they have other good candidates who can start right away. (Good employers will wait for the best candidate when they can. But sometimes they’ll have two “best” candidates or will have legitimate reasons for needing someone to start more quickly.)

Lean on your network as much as you can.

It’s always helpful to search your network for connections to companies you’re targeting, but it’s especially important when you’re searching from afar. Having an insider flag you to the hiring manager can get your application attention when it otherwise might have been passed over.

Doing all of the above can do a lot to counter the disadvantage your location otherwise puts you at. That said, sometimes long-distance job searches can be really hard, and people end up having to move to the new area before they can secure employment. That’s not always possible financially (and I realize you said it’s not an option for you), and it’s especially tricky when you don’t have a specific place in mind beyond “just not my current city.” But sometimes that’s the reality of it. I don’t think you’re at that point yet, though. Try the advice above first and see if it changes your results, and good luck!

Originally published at New York Magazine.

{ 161 comments… read them below }

    1. thisgirlhere*

      I feel where she’s coming from (and have been there), but as a hiring manager, there’s no way I would look at out-of-state candidates for exactly the reasons Alison points out (for an in person role). There’s so much local talent and it just doesn’t make sense to widen the net. The roles aren’t niche enough that anyone could be the exact perfect person to make it worth juggling travel and relocating. Letter writer, if there’s anyway you can up and move (like go freelance for a few months or live off savings) I would seriously consider it. Even after implementing all this advice, you might not get enough bites.

      1. Loulou*

        It doesn’t sound like OP is targeting one specific area that they could move to before applying to jobs, though. They’re applying all over the country!

        1. Future Cat Lady*

          I remember doing that when I was first out of college. I wanted to be a reporter and since there seemed to be nothing happening locally, I applied to placed like California and Texas thinking I could get some experience and move back later.

          I really wish this letter wasn’t behind a paywall because this is my exact situation right here. I want to move cross country, but the job I want isn’t super specialized, so I’ve been thinking of cutting ties and just going, but the idea both excites me and freaks me out.

      2. ChimpCarer*

        I think it really depends on the field, though. My field, local talent can be dependent on the area, harder to find, so out of town candidates are the option.

        And no I can’t pick up and move to each place I’m applying too. I’m applying to a lot of places because my field is super niche.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          Super niche fields with hard to hire positions are much more likely to be open to out of area candidates, though (my field regularly does international job searches), and are more likely to pay for travel expenses for out of town interviews. The OP’s case doesn’t sound like that, as they’re getting multiple interviews in their area, which would imply fairly plentiful positions, and a correspondingly large candidate pool.

          If the OP can’t afford to move before getting a job, can’t afford to pick up and fly last minute to interviews at their own expense, and can’t get interviews out of town, one option is to take a local job, work at it for a year or two saving as much money as possible (live with multiple roommates, do a side gig for extra money, etc.) to build a fund for relocating and interview travel, and build experience in the field that makes them attractive to employers.

      3. LeftEye*

        I had this issue. I needed to move to a new area (like truly, absolutely NEEDED to move), but could not afford moving without a job offer. It’s simply not feasible for most people to have enough savings to be able to afford moving to a new place without promised employment. I’m not saying that makes it the responsibility of companies to help people get jobs that enable them to move, but man I really really wish more companies would reconsider those assumptions about the value of non-local candidates. Unless you’re already well established and have deep pockets it makes it so damn hard to get out when you’re in an area you need to get away from.

        Anyways, I just didn’t say where I was from in my initial cover letter. It worked. People will reply to me saying this is a terrible strategy for XYZ reasons, and I’m sure those people are totally correct so take my example with great caution, LW, but all I know is I did it and it worked out for me so YMMV.

        1. squeakrad*

          For a lot of companies I think it’s more that there were you wouldn’t like the place unless you have reasons outside of the job for moving there. For example if I decided to change jobs and locations, I will definitely focus on my desire to move from a large California city to a small California town, having lived in small towns most of my life before I moved to San Francisco.

    2. Progressively Fewer Fish*

      It is, it is SO ROUGH. When we moved, we had to go with what we had saved and just hope for the best – absolutely no one would hire with an out-of-state address (this was before the explosion in remote/WFH jobs, granted).

      I envy no one the grinding slog that is trying to get a company to understand that you aren’t “an out of state applicant”, you are an applicant who -wants to be in the state-.

    3. anonforthis*

      I KNOW. I had this same problem out of grad school. I was willing to relocate but it’s not like I can just up and move without a salary because, like, I dont have money?? It’s one of those small things that further widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots. If you were lucky enough to already be local in a Big Metro City or have the money as a recent grad to move without a job lined up, you already have an advantage over those who don’t.

  1. Essentially Cheesy*

    I am in Wisconsin and I have a (relatively) new coworker that moved from Utah to work here. It happens. I think candidates just really need to find the perfect fit job and employers need to be willing to help with moving expenses. Maybe it helps if everyone is progressive about interviewing on Teams/Skype/etc? Although my coworker did come in for a final in-person interview I think.

    1. Gigi*

      You saying Wisconsin reminds me of my last job, where I interviewed, was denied, and then was hired into the same role (not to replace him but to work with him) about six months later. They had hired someone to move from Wisconsin, which is not close to us, over me who was local. The Wisconsinite was applying all over the country and had no ties to our city nor previous plans to move here. Absolutely no hard feelings towards him and we were both great employees (if I do say so myself lol), but it was a state government job and I know they had to pay him more than me due to qualifications – the whole thing was just kind of a weird scenario. I guess what I’m saying is one should never give up hope of something working out!

    2. Person from the Resume*

      I don’t think this is relevent for the LW. If the companies can find good/great local candidate, there’s no reason for them to pay relocation expenses for a non-local with the same skillset. It doesn’t sound like the LW has particularly niche skills or much of any experience. That’s what you need for a company to be willing to pay relocation expenses. That’s not decided by the person; it’s decided by the nicheness/speciality of the job requirements.

      1. Just a Thought*

        In addition to any concern about relocation costs (if any), for me there is risk in having someone take a job and move to a new city for it. What if they hate the town? What if they don’t make friends? While those are not my problem per se, it could mean that person decides to move again. Unless our job alone is so perfect on both sides, this is not something we would consider. Now fully remote is another matter — and has less of these types of risks.

      2. Marny*

        Most companies won’t pay for relocation unless they’re the ones casting a wide out-of-state net for a high-level role. I don’t think when people apply for a job that isn’t specifically looking for out-of-state applicants that they assume their relocation will be paid for.

    3. Ben Marcus Consulting*

      Unless it’s a niche role or an geographic area that is incredibly hard to hire in, why should an employer bother with hiring someone that requires relocation assistance? It’s an unnecessary expense when there are local candidates that could fill the role.

      1. Anon in Canada*

        Why do so many employers assume that any out-of-town candidate will expect the new company to pay their relocation expenses? Plenty of candidates (I’d actually think the vast majority) who are applying from out-of-town will be more than happy to pay their own relocation, because THEY WANT THE JOB! Don’t reject people based on a conjecture!

        1. Beth Jacobs*

          Ben is replying to the sentence “employers need to be willing to help with moving expenses”, not making assumptions.

  2. fiona the baby hippo*

    when i was 22, 23, we would always list our friend’s addresses on applications and be ready to hop in a car or bus at a moment’s notice for an interview and crash on a couch… job searching at that age was such a slog but in some ways, being able to run out the door at a moment’s notice (no kids, single, etc) and being willing to sleep on a couch (and having friends who didn’t bat an eye at having someone live on the couch) made things easier. I don’t know how much of that i would be able to do now in my 30s, both as far as responsibilities and stamina for a random overnight bolt bus before an interview!

    1. MsM*

      Yep. Local address + very specific, long-term reason to move in the immediate future was the only thing that ever scored me remote interviews. And even then, I’d spend the first half of every conversation with a new interviewer going, “Yes, I understand this is an on-site position; yes, I’m 100% committed to moving here permanently; yes, I will be there within two weeks of you hiring me; yes, I understand there won’t be any relocation support, and I’m okay with that.”

  3. MPH Researcher*

    From a hiring manager’s perspective, everything Allison said is true. I’ve conducted maybe a dozen hiring rounds in the last 2-3 years for entry-level positions (the first ~4ish for fully-in-person roles, the last 6-8 for hybrid positions where the candidates still need to live locally.)

    I’ve always received plenty of qualified local applicants, so why would I bother with the extra hassle of non-local candidates? None of these positions have had any budget to fly people out for interviews or to pay relocation costs, and it seems really mean to make someone fly out on their own expense just for a “chance” to get a job.

    The one time I hired a non-local candidate was someone who listed their sister’s address on their resume (they were legitimately moving in with them), and they were already flying out a week after I screened them to visit family. So we hired her, and she moved to our location. But 10-11 months later, she gave notice… because she was moving back to her hometown. It doesn’t take many experiences like that to sour a hiring manager on non-local candidates.

    It’s harsh, but there’s often just no incentive for hiring managers to consider non-local candidates unless the position is really hard to hire for or requires a very specific skillset. Would it be feasible to target an area, move there and get a retail/food-service job just to pay the bills, and then use your new local address to apply for the industry you actually want to get into?

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      I can appreciate your concerns because the reverse happened to me, early on in my career. I was born, educated and had not worked out of the Southeast. I interviewed for a job in NJ, but they admitted that one of their biggest concerns was that I had never left the area. I did not get the position.

      I will be honest, I wasn’t ready for NJ at that time, later on in a different industry I was.

      I hope that the LW figures out what they need to do and where they want to be and find a job that fits.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        This is a different situation than the one the LW is asking about. Your experience doesn’t sound like a company not wanting to deal with a person who is not from the area in general, just the standard “everybody from the South is a dumb hick” stuff we all have to put up with when we’re from here.

    2. anonymous73*

      Yes I would be hesitant to consider someone out of state unless I was having a hard time filling a position and needed to look at a broader range of candidates. Even if you’re willing to move to another state, but have never lived there, how do you know you’d be happy? There’s always a risk that a job candidate won’t work out, but being out of state and having no personal connection/experience with a different location makes that risk higher than most are willing to consider.

    3. The OTHER Other*

      I sympathize with the problem of hiring good people but if you are hiring for entry-level positions, I have to think that you deal with turnover pretty frequently. This employee might have had wanderlust or been indecisive about where she wanted to live, but surely you have had local hires that have quit in a few months also?

      I recall the resume of someone who had a series of short (none longer than 18 months, most under a year) jobs, AND they were all over the country: Florida, Utah, Indiana, Alaska, etc. If I ever interviewed her, I would definitely want to know why, unless they were moving with a spouse on military deployments or something like that it would be a red flag.

      1. George*

        I think there is generally too much paralyzing what-if-ism in the hiring process. What if your perfect candidate dies on their first day? I get balancing risk and reward, but then I also see those job openings that have been open for 90+ days and wonder if there were *really* no suitable candidates

      2. MPH Researcher*

        Oh, I totally agree – any new hire can leave for any reason (better job opportunity, family situation, not the right fit for the job, etc.). And I’ve definitely had some not work out for whatever reason. But for an out-of-state candidate you have those exact same risks PLUS additional hassle during the interview process and the risk of them not liking the new location.

    4. Anon in Canada*

      “and it seems really mean to make someone fly out on their own expense just for a “chance” to get a job.”

      This isn’t really your call to make, though. Plenty of long-distance candidates will be more than happy to pay their own way to an interview, because they have a set goal – getting the job! – and don’t mind doing whatever it takes to reach that goal.

      Ideally, the employer would say in the job ad “an in-person interview will be required, and we do not cover relocation costs or interview travel costs”, and then candidates know what they’re getting into. Or at least extend the opportunity to out-of-town candidates, and if someone does not want to pay, let them turn down the interview invitation.

  4. Filosofickle*

    Last time I job hunted long distance, I only had luck when I got very specific and said things like: I’ll be moving in June / I’ll be in town interviewing during X week / I am ready to move immediately. Make sure it sounds like a plan is in motion rather than an idea.

  5. JustAnotherLibrarian*

    I think it depends on your field, too. In academic libraries, this is very common and you often see job applicants from out of state. You also might see *many* applicants from out of state (and potentially locally), so it could just be that you don’t have enough experience yet next to others from out of state who do. I’m making huge assumptions here, but I thought it would be good to see it from one perspective. However, don’t let it get you down because the job I’m in now I got from out of state, so it can be done!

    1. Grits McGee*

      Totally agree- I work in museums/archives, and I’ve moved states for pretty much every job I’ve held. Most of my colleagues have regularly relocated for work as well. Any field where they are only a couple organizations in that field in a geographic area, hiring non-local candidates is going to be more of a norm.

      1. OP LW*

        Letter writer here! The field I want to go into specifically is museum/archiving so I thought finding at least an entry level job would be relatively easy. Would you have any advice for going into that field?

        1. Rhiannon*

          Are you graduating from a program in archival science/something similar this year? If so, I would also mention that in your cover letter (along with planning to move/preparing to move language) as I think in academia and research employers are more understanding if someone is planning to move to a new area right after graduating.

          I will say… I highly doubt it would be easy to find an entry-level position in your field even if you weren’t planning to move. (This is just based on anecdotal experience with a few friends who work in your field). It’s just not a lot of openings and lots of grads who want to do archival research/library/museum science.

          1. OP LW*

            I graduated a year ago with my master’s in that field. I’ve been applying since I graduated; I’m aware that I don’t have a lot of local options in this field and it’s why I’ve been open to going anywhere in the country.

            1. Jack Bruce*

              Knowing that you’re in museums/archives makes it much more understandable. It’s pretty normal as a newer grad to be willing to move for a job and hiring managers know it.

            2. frockbot*

              For what it’s worth, I’m five years into libraryland and just moved cross-country for a job, so it can absolutely happen! In fact one of my previous coworkers also moved across the country for a new gig, and when they posted her position, we got applications from all over. It’s not weird at all.

              That said! It really will help if you can be specific about “when” you’re moving and why. I said it below too, but for the job I’m in now, I was able to (truthfully) say that I wanted to be closer to family in the area. It may be normal to get applications from out of state, but if it comes down to you and one other person, the hiring manager is still likely to think, “Okay, but how soon can they really get here?”

              Best of luck!!

        2. Chirpy*

          To be completely honest, the only museum job I ever managed to get (curator at a historical society) was entirely because of volunteering there 3 full days a week for 3 months right after college, then got hired temporarily to help acquisition a large collection, then became permanent full time. Position was eventually cut.
          Even with several years of experience, there just aren’t many jobs out there unless you luck into something. There’s probably about 5 curator positions in my entire state as far as I can tell. If you don’t already have a degree, look at getting a degree in the subject you want (history, natural science, art, etc), and a minor in Museum Techniques, don’t major in museums as it’s less useful. Good luck though!

        3. TK*

          I’m an archivist, and in my opinion knowing your field literally changes everything about the response to this. For archivists (and academic librarians), the job market is such that moving for a job is totally normal and expected. I would wager most archivists, librarians, and museum professionals move for every single job they take, often across the country. I don’t think anyone in the archives field bats an eye at non-locals applicant– honestly, where I work getting a local applicant would be almost bizarre. I’m always found the advice given here about non-local applicants to be nonsensical for my field.

          Whoever told you that finding an entry level job in the field would be relatively easy did you a grave disservice; honestly, it’s almost professional malpractice for someone in the field to give that advice in my opinion. Archives and museums are incredibly tight job markets and always have been, simply because supply outstrips demand: there are many (many many) more qualified and capable archivists and museum professionals than there are institutions that can afford to hire them. Many in the field go years after getting their master’s without finding a full-time, permanent job.

          1. Loulou*

            +1000. The non-local thing is a non-issue for this field. I know how discouraging it can be to get a ton of rejections, but it’s almost certainly not because you’re not local. It might not be about you at all, just the field you’re competing against.

          2. SciSplainer*

            The museum field is extremely difficult. Anyone who implies is easy to get s job is either gravely misinformed or lying. There are way more museum studies graduates than there are every- level positions, and now even entry- level requires a great deal of experience. The pay is lousy too, because there is so much demand for the positions employers can always find someone who will accept less than fast-food wages. It took 2 years of searching and applying for me to find my current position (thankfully my dream job), and my previous search was just as difficult. Both of those searches were international, and I was checking dozens of websites every day because there aren’t a lot of good centralized job posting sites. Taking my address off my resume/ cover letter helped, as did adding a sentence to my cover letter stating that I wanted to relocate.
            Honestly, the number one thing we look for in hiring is experience. Academics are a nice bonus. The way to build up experience is with internships, part-time work, and volunteering. And yes, this perpetuates the systemic inequities in the field, but it’s the way most of us have found success.

        4. Talvi*

          I graduated in 2018 with my MLIS and am now working in archives and frankly – there simply aren’t that many entry-level jobs in the field. I’m not at all surprised you’re struggling to find a job; it was more than 2 years after I graduated that I landed my current job. It’s a hard field to break into, and some of it really does just come down to luck.

          That said, applying all over the country (especially as a new grad) is very normal in this field and hiring managers know this. I doubt your being non-local is the deciding factor here – the job market for new grads in archives/museums is just that bad.

          Experience might be a bigger factor — even if you were able to land internships and other job experience in the field while you were a student, you might want to consider volunteering if only to keep active in the field. This is a case where you might want to consider cold-emailing small community archives or museums – these are the one who don’t have the staff or resources to run a formal volunteer program but many are happy to have someone who can put in a few hours a week who’s already familiar with how to do the work. (And this can lead to paid work – like another commenter here, I was offered a temporary contract to process a specific acquisition at the archive I volunteered at.)

          1. TK*

            Yeah, as another archivist I second all of this. Knowing the field, I do not think this is about location. No one bats an eye at someone moving across the country for a job in our field. The rest of your advice is more likely to be helpful here.

    2. ChimpCarer*

      This. So much. My current position, I’d never even been to the state and I got the job :)

    3. Library Landing*

      I’m also an academic librarian and I’ve moved states twice for jobs. (I even moved during the pandemic for my current job.) It’s the norm in academia. My current library has a position open and we’re considering out-of-state candidates. We even pay some moving expenses so we’re willing to do what it takes for the right candidate. All hiring involves risk and helping someone new to town integrate and connect with the community is part of welcoming a new team member.

      1. TK*

        I’m an academic archivist and yeah… in academia or academia-adjacent field like libraries/archives/museums, literally none of the advice given on this blog or elsewhere about non-local candidates applies. It is totally normal and expected and no one will bat an eye at someone applying who lives on the other end of the country. It’s simply not a factor at all the vast majority of the time.

        Knowing that the OP here is in this field makes the response to this letter literally completely different.

    4. kitryan*

      Yeah, I used to work in theater (design) and moving is common. I totally expected to either settle in NYC or to need to move around amongst the smaller markets regularly, as NYC/LA/Chicago are some of the only US cities that you can build an entire career in.
      I was in NYC and job searching, looking at stuff pretty much anywhere and had called to follow up on one west coast job- and the hiring manager told me he’d liked me but was nervous about my moving out there just for the job. So he’d made an offer to another candidate who was moving out there for her husband’s work already. But she’d just told him she was taking another offer. The timing was perfect- still being available right after his first choice fell thru, reiterating my interest/willingness to move – clinched the deal. I moved there sight unseen and stayed in the job for 5 years and in the state for 6.

  6. House Tyrell*

    I moved out of state last year and secured my job beforehand. It’s most helpful if you have an actual timeline in place for when you’re moving so employers feel secure that this is a real plan and not just a dream- like your lease is ending so you know you’ll be moving in a certain month. In addition to your lines about liking the place you’d be moving, include a date. In my cover letter, I said “I will be relocating to City in Month and..” and when I started doing that I got a lot of interviews. Sounds like you’re applying all over but if you can at least list a month that should help a lot. Additionally, if you can expand on why you’re eager to move to that specific city, you should. Like having family nearby, a partner’s job moving there, friends in the area, you’ve been before and really love XYZ, or any other reason. Otherwise employers may worry that hiring you means you’ll leave after a few months if you don’t like the place or feel isolated and depressed and that’s a huge risk for them.

    1. frockbot*

      Yes, yes, yes. I’ve applied to jobs in different states twice. The first time, I didn’t get any bites until I started putting “(relocating to [state] in [month])” on my resume. The second time, I noted in my cover letter that I had family in the area and wanted to be closer to them.

      Both of these things were true! So if you can find ANY connection to the places you’re looking–maybe a friend or classmate lived there and says it’s great, or you visited once as a kid and have fond memories–I think you’ll be better off.

  7. Amy*

    Something about the “willing to move” language just seems off. Almost like it’s a favor you’d do. And I agree with Allison, it’s not the right tone to strike.

    1. Spencer Hastings*

      I see it as more “of course I’m fully prepared to cover my own relocation costs, because that would be a ridiculous thing for me to ask of you”.

    2. Loulou*

      I think willing to move is weird because it’s implied by you applying to a job in that place…how else would you do it if you weren’t willing to move?

      1. Bean Counter Extraordinaire*

        “Relocating to XYZ” = I’m moving to XYZ whether you hire me or not, vs “Willing to relocate to XYZ” = I will be moving to XYZ if hired …. ? At least, that’s how I’d think of it.

    3. anonymous73*

      I’ve seen plenty of job applications that have a “willing to relocate” check box so I don’t think it’s that unusual.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Those are most often for companies that have multiple locations, where they might ask an employee to relocate *after* being in the job for a while.

        1. Dragonfly7*

          I like “ready to move!” Stealing and storing in my cover letter arsenal. I expect I will want to move away from here eventually.

      1. L'étrangere*

        Yes, ‘planning’ is much closer to reality, the LW actively wants to move rather than would be ‘willing’, ie condescend to it if the employer begged hard enough

  8. lemon*

    OP, not sure if this is an option for you, but would doing Americorps make sense? The pay is… incredibly low, but they do pay a (small) relocation stipend and are more open to hiring out of state candidates. This was the strategy I took when I was 25 and in “anywhere but here” mode, and was pretty easy to get a job offer in California (when I did not live in California). The positions only last 10-12 months, so can be a good way to start establishing a network in a new place while getting paid (a very small amount) while you look for your next opportunity in your new state.

    1. Turanga Leela*

      A related thought: OP, do you want your job to be the next step in your career, or is it more important for you to move? You could pick a location and apply for jobs as a public school teacher. Most districts are in dire need of teachers right now—to the point of waiving a lot of credential requirements, hiring out-of-state candidates, and sometimes even offering bonuses—and if you have a master’s degree, you’re probably qualified to teach something. They won’t pay your moving expenses, but if you can scrape up the money to move, it will be tax-deductible at the end of the year.

      Then once you’re wherever you want to be, you can look for other jobs locally.

  9. Accountette*

    Depends on the hiring situation in the place you want to live. I changed my linkedin location to Memphis knowing I was definitely going to move there to be closer to family. (I was located in Austin, TX at the time) and had a job within a month. Recruiters were fighting for me, and I am just a regular (not senior) accountant with 5 years experience. Now obviously this is probably more of an outlier as Memphis has kind of a financial brain drain because wages are lower than national average, but changing your linkedin to your wanted city and setting it to looking could help!

  10. Turanga Leela*

    Is this a situation where using an objective/summary on your resume could be helpful? I never quite know how to word that section, but that seems like exactly the place to say something like, “I’m an experienced litigator, I’m moving to Chicago to be near family, and I’m looking for a role doing trials, appeals, or both.”

    1. NotMy(Fancy)RealName*

      I’d think that this would be in the first paragraph of your cover letter.

  11. Gigi*

    As someone who wants to move right now, the thing I find weirdest about the whole thing is that people seem to be very confused about the desire to just…not be where you are right now and try something new, even though when I look around me, I see plenty of people who have ended up far from home, usually just because that’s where they found a job. I feel like most people have wanted that at some point in their life – maybe after not going for it they try to forget they ever wanted it or something.

    1. Gigi*

      Replying to myself, I’m not even talking about hiring managers and interviewers, although it’s definitely discouraging to know it’s so looked down upon, but I do get the reasons. I mean just trying to talk to anyone in day to day life about career goals and saying you’d really rather be living somewhere else – I don’t get a lot of positive feedback!

    2. WellRed*

      That the OP seems to be applying, it seems, just about everywhere and anywhere that is Not Here makes me agree with this. OP us that coming through in your applications?

      1. This is a name, I guess*

        They said they just graduated from grad school. A lot of times, people don’t have a ton of control where they end up in grad school, so it makes logical sense LW would want to move.

        1. Loulou*

          Right. One of the most common pieces of advice for new grads in my field is to be willing to move anywhere. That’s not the same as applying to any job (ie you should still only apply for jobs where you can make a strong case for yourself) but not being tied to one geographical area is seen as a plus. Selling applicants on the town/area is a typical part of the interview process.

    3. SansaStark*

      That might change if you land somewhere with a more transient population. I moved to DC for basically that reason without a job lined up and I find that a lot of people here have a similar story. I just couldn’t be *there* anymore. Good luck and I hope you find an exciting new place!

      1. Gigi*

        Yeah I agree! I definitely live in a part of the country where people want to be close to home. I even got a lot of amazement at going *away* to college (800 miles, which is far but not exactly one coast to the other or something). That was very confusing to me as I feel like most of the messaging we get around college is about going off somewhere new and learning to live on your own. Obviously that’s not the entire point of college and isn’t desirable/feasible for everyone but still…

    4. 3cities4years*

      As someone who’s moved more frequently than anyone in my friend group, the other issue is that if you want to move *to* a city ‘just because,’ hiring managers get concerned that you’ll also want to move *away* in a short period of time.

      1. Gigi*

        I get that and I understand that’s the world people making hiring decisions are dealing with. It’s just a tough position to be in because I can’t really manufacture a reason for wanting it besides *wanting it*

        1. Just a Thought*

          There’s all kinds of reasons — I want to make sure I get a good start in my career and your position looks wonderful. I have friends in this area and between that and your position, I know I would be happy here. Skiing is my hobby and being here, where I can ski, and be employed doing a great job for you sounds perfect. Use your imagination!

          1. Gigi*

            Sure, but based on what I’m reading in this comment section, no one seems receptive to anything much short of “I’m getting married this weekend to someone who lives in your city” and boy can I say that is not happening to me anytime soon

            1. Just a Thought*

              I think that people are expressing that you need to assure prospective employers that you have a reason to move to their town. It is a lot of pressure for a a job to be the end-all-be-all of why you are moving somewhere (unless it is that level of a position and that does not seem to be the case). I like the idea of “I’m relocating as of ….” but you still need to be able to answer why. Just wanting a change is going to feel thin to the recruiters.

              1. Filosofickle*

                It’s a bit of the same logic you use to answer “why are you looking to leave your current job” and “why do you want this job” — it doesn’t matter hugely what the answer is, it just has to sound positive and purposeful. It’s awesome if it’s a deeply meaningful and true answer but it doesn’t have to be. You just have to have a clear story.

            2. Zee*

              I find it weird that “I’m moving because my husband got a job in City” is considered a good reason. I’d be like… “Oh, okay, so your husband controls where you live? So when he gets another new job, you’ll leave?” I’d find it way better to hire someone who says “I’m moving because I want to move, not because I’m making a sacrifice for my relationship.”

              1. allathian*

                Uh, I don’t know. Why should that be a problem? I know several couples who moved because the higher-earning spouse got a new job, regardless of the genders of the people involved; in one case it was the husband who moved to be with his higher-earning wife, in another one of the wives in a lesbian relationship moved for the other, but in three cases the wife moved for the higher-earning husband. That’s just realism, in most heterosexual relationships the husband earns more than the wife does, even if it’s becoming more common for the reverse to be true.

                Granted, I’m not a hiring manager, but I expect that most couples, given the choice, would rather live together than separately, and even if they keep separate homes, like my sister and her SO, or my MIL and her husband, would prefer to live close enough to each other to make at least weekend trips a reasonable proposition. This means that if one spouse moves for a job, and they’re still intending to stay together and not getting a divorce, sooner or later the other spouse will move to be with them.

    5. anonymous73*

      I’m not confused by someone wanting to move to a different location, but how do you know you won’t move somewhere else and be just as unhappy? It’s completely understandable that a company may not be willing to take that risk.

      1. Gigi*

        Who said anything about being unhappy? That seems to play into what I’m getting at – normal, stable people want to relocate too, yes even occasionally without a super compelling concrete reason. I really do understand where hiring managers are coming from but I also do think there is too much baggage going into these conversations or something, people are looking at their past experiences and not the individual candidate. For example, I think a reference check could really determine if someone is a flight risk or not

        1. anonymous73*

          Being unhappy about where you live and being normal and stable are not mutually exclusive.

        2. doreen*

          I don’t think it’s really possible to determine if someone is a “flight risk” or not. I’ve known people who relocated basically just because they wanted to, for no concrete reasons – not to move near family, not because a partner got a job in the new location. Just because they wanted to live in the new place. A surprising number of them ended up being unhappy in the new place , often for reasons that they should have been able to predict (like the NYC non-driver who moved to a suburb and hated it, because she couldn’t really go anywhere local on her own). They didn’t all move again, but some did.

        3. Smithy*

          From about the time I was in middle school, I knew I did not want to live in my hometown and at different times tried to conduct out of state job hunts as a result.

          I would frame my experience as one where my hometown and family situation did make me incredibly unhappy and all sorts of other issues entirely unrelated to my professional life. Maybe because I was aware that all of those reasons were not viable in the professional context, I worked really hard to frame my desire to move to specific cities and for specific jobs.

          While I have been successful in getting different jobs in different cities regardless of having family/partner in any of those places – I will say that my quality of life in those cities has varied greatly based on the community I am able to build for myself. Not that people can’t/don’t start completely over, but it is a lot harder and can take time.

          I had one job for 3.5 years in a country where I had no family, and every so often I’d get questions from coworkers about whether I had any family – like even a third cousin in the country?? At that point I was already hired, but it came from that place of concern that life there was harder without that larger support network. Within the US, it wouldn’t be quite the same – but I do think those are ingrained concerns and biases that you will face without giving someone a reason why they shouldn’t worry.

      2. AdequateArchaeologist*

        This kind of confuses me. My husband and I have lived in multiple states before ending up where we live now. We know for a fact that this is our least favorite place to live for a number of reasons. Because we have experience living in different places! Also, some people leave their area for major reasons. We are looking to leave because there is a massive looming water shortage and absurdly intense fire season on the horizon.

    6. MK*

      They aren’t confused, they understand perfectly well that someone might just want a change. But that doesn’t actually negate the reasons why they are unwilling to consider nonlocal candidates, in fact it reinforces them.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, wanting a change just for wanting a change sounds a bit suspect, because next year they might want another change.

        That said, people’s temperaments do vary a lot. I’m very much a “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t” and “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” type of person. Wanting change for its own sake when your life is perfectly fine as it is, is something I will never understand. Sure, I had some adventures in my twenties, and went abroad as an exchange student and later as an ERASMUS intern, when it wasn’t strictly necessary, just something I really wanted to do.

        I was also in a bad relationship in my early 20s, not abusive exactly, but we were just bad for each other and it took far too long for me to realize that it wouldn’t get better and that I had to end it, so I can make significant changes when I have to.

        That said, I don’t think I’ve ever switched jobs until I had to… I left the first job I had in high school and college (I went to a local college) when I went abroad as an exchange student. At college and in my early career I had lots of non-career jobs that I took just to earn some money while I looked for a more permanent situation, and a few career-related jobs that were all on a fixed term. At one point in my late 20s I had 3 jobs simultaneously. Those don’t really count because I was constantly looking for something more permanent, and my employers no doubt knew it, because they employed entry-level recent graduates that were expected to move on in a fairly short time.

        Someone once defined middle-age as an attitude where you put comfort before adventure, and in that sense I guess I hit middle-age in my early 30s…

    7. Eff Walsingham*

      Interesting. From my perspective, I grew up in a place that had fairly little to offer the majority of young people. It was understood by most parents and educators that most of us would go away after high school, and maybe half of us would come back to live, under any circumstance. “Anywhere else” was a totally valid goal destination.

      But that understanding is not a selling point for a particular college or job. From their perspective, it’s still going to be about getting the best possible candidate(s) for *this* program or *this* job. How unhappy you are with your current circumstances has no bearing on theirs.

      For example, imagine a person who is very unhappy being single. Someone they accept a date with doesn’t want to be thought of as merely an alternative to loneliness… they want to date someone who wants to be with *them* personally. If I were this LW, I would want to specify in cover letters how the prospect of *this job* is so exciting, coupled with X and Y attractions of City, State, that they would be thrilled to be contacted regarding an interview (and so on). As if the job itself would be compelling even without the lure of being in beautiful City, State.

      And even then, there is always the peril of those pesky Highly Qualified Local Candidates.

    8. OP LW*

      I agree! I get a lot of “what’s wrong with living here?” (mostly from family, lol). I don’t mind where I live but I have Reasons for not wanting to live here.

      1. Gigi*

        Well I’m glad someone understands what I’m getting at! I really hope you find something! There’s a lot of good advice in the response and comments but it’s getting a little overly discouraging too and I really don’t think people will find it that hard to believe that someone who just finished grad school is serious about moving to wherever they get the right fitting job. It happens all the time

      2. Anon in Canada*

        Similar here! I grew up in an “isolated craphole” that has nothing to offer to young adults who aren’t the “coupled before 21, kids before 25” type of people. Its job market is also extremely tilted towards blue-collar jobs. Well, I have no interest in blue-collar work, don’t want kids, and did not date as a teenager. I left at 19 and it’s been crystal clear ever since that I would never come back, except perhaps in or near retirement. It took a very long time for my family to understand that!

  12. ThatGirl*

    When I was 24 I was living in small-town Kentucky, working at a small-town newspaper, and very desperately wanted to move to Chicagoland, both for better job opportunities and to be near my then-boyfriend, who was going to be starting grad school. And I honestly got lucky, but I think there are some lessons in it too. I let a network of journalists know I was looking, and one was in Chicagoland; she didn’t have openings at her paper but she had a friend who worked at a different paper and THEY had an opening. And it all just happened to work out that I was up in the area visiting my boyfriend anyway, so I had an in-person interview. (This was 2005, so way before Zoom.) And while it wasn’t as close to my boyfriend’s grad school as I might have liked, it got me into the region and here I remain, now married 15 years.

    And like I said, I got lucky, but I think the lessons are a) use your network and b) be willing to travel for interviews.

  13. CheesePlease*

    As someone who got hired to move out of state (MD to PA – but 3hrs away) it’s helpful to have VERY clear reasons. In my case, I was engaged and moving closer to his location. I stated why I was looking to move specifically to that area. When I was involved with hiring at that same company, coordinating in-person interviews with out-of-state folk was complicated, and there was doubt that they were serious enough about the specific job that they would move.

    I recommend picking 1-3 locations where you want to live, and making it clear that you WILL be moving there within a specific timeframe.

    1. Zee*

      there was doubt that they were serious enough about the specific job that they would move.

      Why though? Why would you assume someone who applied for a job doesn’t actually want the job? You think people just do it for funsies?

      1. Eff Walsingham*

        Some people cast a wide net when job hunting, and some of those will prefer local over long distance. I can see where some companies might be wary of being “left at the altar” after going through the whole interview process, by a candidate who ultimately accepts a local offer instead. I see it as a big YMMV factor on the part of the interviewers.

      2. CheesePlease*

        I conducted screening interviews and would ask candidate who lives far away why they were interested in moving. I got a lot of “I want to try something new” type responses from mid-career candidates who had established lives in their current city (ie: children in school, working partners, owning homes). Simply put, their response to why they wanted to move wasn’t very convincing – they couldn’t speak strongly about their desire for the role either. We also didn’t have a budget for relocation fees, which may have been a sticking point later in the process had they been extended an offer.

    2. OP LW*

      Thank you! I definitely see reason in narrowing down locations. I’ve sent out lots of cover letters/resumes and I know which places I got a tingle of ‘I hope I get hired here so I can live here’ so I’ll focus my efforts in those places!

  14. The Other Evil HR Lady*

    We’ve had so many out-of-state candidates leave us after short stints, that I wonder why we hire any out-of-staters at all… That’s not to say it never works. We still have an out-of-stater that’s been with us for 4 years, but it’s been a rough 4 years for them and it’s impacted their work. All that to say: employers are wary of hiring from without when they can find what they’re looking for within. I’m sorry…

    But here’s my idea… is there ANY way to work in the same type of work you want to do where you are, maybe for a larger company that has offices out of state. Even if it’s a smaller company, you can start building your network in the area you want to work in and see where that leads you. Or, if that’s not feasible, just start working where you are and squirrel away as much money as possible so you CAN make the move eventually. So you postpone the move for a couple of years, so what? You can do it and still do great things!

  15. Ellen Ripley*

    Would you consider an area within a few hours/driving distance of your current location? It might be easier to make your case to the hiring manager, and it might be different enough of a place to satisfy your urge to move for a little while. Once you secure a position you can save up money and make a big move to the location of your choice when you’re ready!

  16. Another person again*

    I did this successfully pre-pandemic, for a mid level job they could have easily hired a local candidate for.

    Steps I took:
    1. Stated when I was moving – you need to make it sound like a definite plan already in motion.
    2. Stated when I would be in town and available for interviews – even if it doesn’t match their schedule for interviews (mine didn’t, I did a video interview), they know you are serious / looking for a place to live.

    1. Ali + Nino*

      Great tips. Re: letting them know when you’d be available for on site interviews, did you have a couple of other interviews lined up? Or was it really just getting this one job that happened to work out?

  17. WomEngineer*

    I think it depends on what industry or type of job you’re looking to join. For example, larger companies tend to offer more relocation assistance, especially if they recruit from out-of-state universities.

    Maybe start with college career fairs (especially if there’s one for your major or grad students) or network with alumni.

  18. anon24*

    My husband was just offered a job he applied for several states away. When he applied I suggested he use the phrase “relocating to your area around XX date” because of course we would be moving if he got hired, but it makes it sound more of a sure deal. Once he actually got to talk to the manager he explained that this was dependent on getting an offer and the date would change based on us finding housing and giving notice at our current place and they have been understanding so far.

  19. Sunshine*

    I’ve done this five times and I will hard agree that the best advice is to pretend the move is already happening. Don’t mention being willing to relocate at all – say “I will be relocating to (area) on X date,” and as other people have suggested, have a reason why you’ll be there long-term even if you have to make it up. It’s worked every time!

  20. A Little Bit Alexis*

    I was on a hiring committee last year that ended up hiring an out-of-state candidate over any local candidates. Two of the things that made us feel better about that (besides her just being one of the best candidates) were that she already lived far from home/family and had for a while, and that she had previously lived in our neighboring state and had friends in the general region. It took some of the relocation concerns off the table. I think if you can minimize those concerns with concrete reasons, you’re much more likely to get an interview.

  21. Environmental Compliance*

    I moved at the start of the pandemic from IN to WI and did not move first.

    What seemed to work for me was stating clearly that I was moving back to the area for family. I didn’t have a lot of “reasoning” put in, though – I kept my address out, to be quite honest, and then when asked said I had family that I needed to move closer to and this was the perfect area. It wasn’t in my cover letter. I’m curious if the amount of information OP is putting in and the “anywhere” approach has put people off – maybe came off a little desperate, or otherwise came across weird?

    1. Radical Edward*

      I was wondering this too. Back in the pre-video-call days, I used the addresses of local friends or relatives on my resume, tailored to each job. This at least got me some interviews, although I wasn’t an experienced enough candidate to land anything at the time. The magic phrase for other locations was ‘relocating to X’ underneath my current address – and drop a line in the cover letter about the move being a done deal for [future month]. That’s all the detail you should need to provide! After all, they’re not privy (nor should they be) to whether you have a partner who’s being transferred, or are moving in with relatives, etc. All the rest is more appropriate to discuss in an actual interview or after receiving an offer.

      It can be hard to internalize the ‘less is more’ mantra when it comes to describing personal circumstances, but it really does make a huge difference in that initial impression of a candidate’s confidence and general having-their-stuff-togetherness.

      (Fast forward to now, I have multiple countries and several large cities on my resume so anyone who bothers to read it ought to understand that moving and being far from ‘home’ aren’t issues for me! And I never include anything besides my email address; as Alison pointed out, online forms usually ask for a current address and/or phone number anyway, and I don’t like to have those in my resume just sitting there for all to see.)

    2. OP LW*

      Thanks for the tip. Each cover letter I made focused on the specific area for the job that that cover letter was applying for; it shouldn’t be coming across that I’m willing to go anywhere!

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        that’s good! It was hard to tell from the brief wording. Is it a very competitive field? I’m somewhat lucky in that I’m pretty specialized, so my employer had to be open to recruiting w/relocation.

  22. This is a name, I guess*

    In the current moment, I feel like there are a few additional considerations:

    1) Be sure to scream from the top of your lungs on all materials and in every interview that, “YES, I KNOW THIS ROLE IS IN PERSON AND I’M LOOKING FOR AN IN-PERSON ROLE AND YES I PLAN ON RELOCATING.” I feel like with all the employers doing the remote-work-bait-and-switch and with job candidates generally putting in less effort in this hiring environment, employers (even ethical ones) are likely getting tons of applicants that are total mismatches to the jobs. We get tons of apps for in-person roles from people looking for remote jobs. I imagine this makes hiring managers even less likely to consider non-local candidates because they are fatigued by screening out materials by people who want something totally different. (I blame unethical employers doing the bait-and-switch for this.)

    2) Be sure to explain specifically why you want *that* job, especially if you’re early career. Given the situation above, I think a lot hiring managers get burned by people casting a very wide net in their job searches and who say they would move for the right job, but I think a lot jobseekers are not being honest with themselves about how likely they are to actually move (human nature, really). In such a competitive hiring market, it’s super common to have someone bail before their start date because they got another job. I imagine this happens more often with non-local candidates who find a job in their area. Specifying your interest in a specific role will help mitigate some of this.

    3) If the roles you’re applying to have any remote/hybrid work especially at the beginning (or you plan to ask for it), you should also shout from the mountaintop that you have a timeline to move to the area in X weeks. Potentially offer them a timeline of your own. It was super common in the pandemic for companies to hire someone temporarily remote, and then that person starts hemming and hawing about moving once the return-to-office plan happens or once the online/hybrid portion of a job ends. This likely also raises the hackles of some hiring managers.

  23. A Kate*

    It may also make a difference which places you’re applying to. New York, LA, San Francisco, even Austin (especially lately) are places that are accustomed to attracting out-of-state people. A smaller city or town in a less “famous” area may be one where a highly personalized sentence or two about why you’d want to move there, specifically, might help hiring managers to see you as a person who is interested enough in the community and environment outside the office. All this to say, you need to show enthusiasm for the job and the company, but I can absolutely see a hiring team worrying that you may not last long if the ONLY thing drawing you to the area is the job alone (even if they wouldn’t say it exactly that way out loud).

    Source: I come from a small place in a more rural “flyover” state, but have lived in NYC a long time. Call it the arrogance/confidence of New Yorkers who would never question why someone would want to come here, or the humility of the “fly-overs” (said with love!) knowing that their environment has more hyper-specific things to offer than a “has everything” metropolis, but I’ve experienced both dynamics in my life.

    1. Annie Moose*

      I used to live and work in a quite small city and this was a real problem for my employer. They were a decent-sized manufacturer (you’ve heard their name), but their headquarters and primary factory were in this very tiny city without a whole lot going on. People from out of the area would accept jobs, but a year later they’d be gone, because they just wanted and needed more–more things to do, more decent restaurants, more stores. So they almost exclusively hired people from the area (or other similarly-populated areas) because frankly the big city people didn’t want to stay!

      (I came from an even tinier town, so frankly their city seemed pretty exciting to me…)

      If this at all describes the LW’s situation, then I do think you need to address that aspect head-on. (maybe not this exact situation, but similarly where there’s good reason to think an out-of-area person might not realize what they’re getting into) I don’t think you need a monologue or anything, but some kind of specific details that can make a hiring committee go, yes, this person genuinely wants to come here.

    2. Jack Bruce*

      To add another data point, I come from one of the newer “hot cities” and as a hiring manager in my last position I was wary of out of state candidates who didn’t address why they were interested in a position in this specific city. We had a good selection of local candidates, and did generally hire those who were already in town. So even if you are applying to a place in a popular city, give a good reason why you’re interested in it and the job.

  24. Spearmint*

    If isn’t this so frustrating, as the standard advice is “don’t move to a new city without a job”, but then getting an out of state job is really difficult if not impossible for most people. Yet Americans move to different states all the time, so many aren’t following that advice.

  25. Globetrotta*

    Solidarity, OP. I wanted to get out of Florida for YEARS and had a hell of a time doing it. One time, I had a friend working at the org I was applying to speak to a hiring manager on my behalf, and the response was, oh no, I think she’ll be great, totally suited for the role, I just don’t believe she wants to leave Miami. (Sir – have you ever *been* to Miami for longer than a few days? Getting out is for the best). Few years later, got a job out of state, didn’t take, we parted ways, I went to live in NY with my folks, and suddenly got lots of responses for jobs in DC – my resume with only Florida employers hadn’t changed, just my location. Now, maybe it was a coincidence, but I don’t think so. It’s hard out there and I wish you all of the luck!

    1. Eff Walsingham*

      My husband and I are in the same situation, in that we currently live in a Hot Destination, and a lot of people don’t believe that one could want to leave! I have lived here for nearly two decades… this isn’t an impulsive decision. My spouse was BORN here, and will be leaving the embrace of his very close family. Just because lots and lots of people find a place attractive or desirable doesn’t mean it will be that way for everyone! (I’m sure I couldn’t deal with Florida either.)

      But I can’t provide any useful insights on long distance job hunting, because we’ve decided to do it in the opposite order. Which does feel somewhat foolhardy, yes; but with our industry backgrounds it may prove feasible. Or we may be in for a rough couple of years! With any move, it’s impossible to really know in advance how you’ll feel about all the changes. We might in our ignorance be saddling ourselves with an awful commute, for example. All any individual can do is learn as much as possible beforehand, weigh their options and take their chances.

  26. Mel*

    I’m not able to read Alison’s response, so sorry if I’m repeating or contradicting anything. However, I dealt with a similar situation when I was moving to a new state and thought I would share what helped for me. Instead of saying that I was willing to move to whatever state the job was in, I said that I was already in the process of moving. I was able to do all my interviews virtually, and listed my start date for about 3-4 weeks so that you have time to move ASAP. I also didn’t ask for any relocation assistance, which I think helped as well, but not sure if the letter writer is dependent on that. I think it would make things more difficult.

  27. Moving*

    I was in this position before the pandemic. In my cover letter, I gave a definitive date in the near future (“I’m relocating to X City on May 1”)–even though there was no way I was willing to move anywhere until I had been offered a job. Once I made that decision to basically say “I’m moving imminently regardless of whether I receive this job or not” I received many interview requests in different cities I was considering moving to. Offering a clear move-date really helped me, because before when I mentioned that I was planning to move at some imprecise time in the future, I never got a response.

    1. OP LW*

      I appreciate the advice! This seems to be the general consensus amongst the comments. I will definitely be tailoring my cover letters and resume!

    2. Zee*

      What would you have done though if you got caught in the lie? Say the interview process took a few weeks, and they offered you the job in early May. They think you can start right away since you’ll have already left your previous job in moved, when in reality you can’t start for a few more weeks now.

  28. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

    When I was hiring for jobs that had to be in-person, I got a lot of non-local applicants, and my company wasn’t able to pay travel costs to interview in-person. The job was heavily relational and required building rapport in person (we did role plays in the interviews) so it wasn’t something I could evaluate with a Zoom interview.

    In addition to the barriers others have named, if a non-local candidate’s phone screen wasn’t knock-it-out-of-the-park, I didn’t want to waste candidates’ time/money to travel for an interview. Even if they expressed willingness to cover costs, if my thought process was “average candidate who could surprise me in an interview,” I felt guilty about asking them to waste time/money thinking they had a decent shot at the job when I knew it was more like a 1 in 100 chance. Sometimes I gave them the choice – like “you have X interesting skill, and it could be really high value-add for the role, but I want to be upfront that the pool is competitive and there are candidates who overall are stronger fits at this point. Happy to advance you if you’re still willing to travel for an interview.” Every single candidate I had that conversation with ended up withdrawing.

  29. Retail Not Retail*

    I successfully interviewed for a job out of state and was prepared to move with just 2 weeks’ notice and I had family in town etc etc. I even dropped everything for and got approved for a week’s vacation for the final in person interview and background check sign off.

    Well that was going to take longer than a week and when I asked for a timeline (hello, I need to not leave my current job hanging as I extend my vacation), they dropped me and said they were restarting the search focusing on local talent only.

    There were many red flags in the process but this logistical hurdle wasn’t one of them. They needed someone local to accommodate official schedules and their own background check process.

  30. NeedRain47*

    If the LW is in a flyover state, and applying to jobs in major metropolitan areas… watch out for anti-flyover-state bias. People act like you just said you’re from the moon, they have no idea what goes on in any plains states and don’t want to know. (I haven’t been applying for jobs there, but given how they react under other circumstances, I’m guessing they’d react the same to a resume from Nebraska.)

    1. Gigi*

      I remember accompanying a friend to a party on Long Island and getting a lot of borderline rude comments asking me ~~~what it’s like~~~~ where I’m from. Hated to burst their bubble and inform them their uh…backyard with a fence was not that different than what we have back home. Quite sure they didn’t believe me

      1. NeedRain47*

        Yep it was in New York and New Jersey that I got these shocked and stunned reactions. Like they’re not really sure that’s a place that exists, and you can see their brain trying to figure out if it’s just farms everywhere or what.

      2. The OG Sleepless*

        I’ve met plenty of people who were quite curious about where I live, in Georgia. They seem to be expecting me to regale them with tales of the colorful redneck neighbors with shotguns, or the voodoo queens or something. My descriptions of an Atlanta suburb with sprawl and HOAs and back yards seem…dull and implausible.

  31. Ally McBeal*

    This has been my experience to a T, having moved twice since beginning my professional career. When I was moving to a big East Coast city I was able to line up a couple phone calls with recruiters after having already set my move date and giving them my new address (my roommate was already living there and gave me permission). And in late 2019 I decided to move to the Midwest in mid-2020 and began trying to figure out how the search would work (I have family in the area and figured I could use their address)… and then the pandemic hit, I was working remotely so I just moved anyway while still with my old employer, and found work after I arrived.

    I feel you, OP, it’s frustrating when it doesn’t have to be, especially in a new age of virtual/remote work… but maybe getting a stopgap, fully-remote job is the key to getting you to a city you actually want to be in, and then finding the job you really want once you’re there.

  32. DataSci*

    It’s been years since I did this, but I put “relocating to CITY in MONTH” on my resume, and explained the reasons in my cover letter. Unlike the LW here I was definitely moving to a specific city on a specific time frame – my spouse had accepted a position here – which I’m sure helped. As long as you’re only applying in cities you’d genuinely be committed to moving to, I don’t think putting the same language on your resume would be at all misleading, and being able to commit to a time – reading between the lines, it looks like you aren’t currently employed, so relocation should be fairly quick – might help employers who would otherwise worry about a months-long delay between offer and start date.

  33. L'étrangere*

    LW, I wonder if you may not be suffering from a -cumulation- of factors against you. It is indeed difficult to job search from out of state. But job searching is difficult for any new graduate. And job searching is especially difficult for anyone without a job. So I know you want to get out of there as soon as humanly possible, but would it be possible for you to take one of those local offers, even knowing you might be gone in 6 months, and eliminate 2 of the 3 strikes against you (not to mention the unemployment stress)? And just low-key continue with your job search as before, simply from a better position. Explain to potential employers that you wanted to move originally, and throw in some fairly neutral reason why staying where you are is not ideal for either parties. If you get a job elsewhere quickly enough, you can simply leave the short-term one off your future resume

  34. my 8th name*

    I haven’t read Alison’s response yet, but maybe instead of listing your current city and state on your resume, you can say “Relocating to New City, New State” and present the move in your cover letter as a guarantee rather than a possibility.

  35. Nancy*

    What is your field and how far away are you considering? I work in the Boston area and we get plenty of resumes from graduates of local universities and throughout New England, so have no real reason to look elsewhere. We also do not cover interview and relocation costs for entry or mid-level jobs. It’s expensive to move here, and at least local applicants already have some ties to the area.

    I recommend focusing on locations that may lack applicants in your field, consider areas within driving distance, and state that you plan to move there. If you already know someone in the area, sue their local address and state that you plan to visit and can interview then.

  36. Silverose*

    I tried to do this for years, in two different career fields (after getting a second degree in the second field) without any luck. Finally, my spouse and I found friends in the area of our preference who had a spare bed and space to put our dog’s crate and were willing to house and feed us until we found jobs. We had already cashed in a small retirement account due to one of us losing a job right at the start of the pandemic, so we used that to ship our belongings cross country and pay the storage fees until I found my first local job in the new area. I started a new job 2.5 months after we first moved in with the friends, although we ended up living with them about a year before we got our own place due to it being a high cost of living area and my spouse being unable to work due to injury. Sometimes you have to find any way that works.

  37. OP LW*

    Letter writer here! I hope I didn’t come across as too starry-eyed in my letter to AAM. I promise I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck yesterday and have very real expectations of what relocating looks like, lol. I have found Alison’s answer, as well as most of the commenters’ advice, to be very helpful! The general consensus in the comments section seems to be narrow my moving options down and to give off the vibe that I’m already moving to the area in question. I can’t wait to rework my cover letter now!

    1. Gigi*

      I don’t think that you were starry eyed. You’re facing a problem most people leaving school face and eventually solve, despite being the most undesirable possible candidates to most hiring managers (/s)

    2. Nancy*

      Now that I know your field, it makes more sense. It’s very different from my field. I have friends with museum degrees and the ones not working in a museum are the ones not willing to move to another area. My understanding is that it is very competitive and you have to be open to moving if you want a job.

    3. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      OP, I would encourage you to decide where you want to live and focus there. My two cents– location is incredibly significant in one’s way of life, satisfaction, happiness, standard of living, recreational opportunities, even love life! Maybe you want a big city with night life, cultural resources and diversity. Maybe you like a more rural, nature-oriented, quiet way of life. Maybe you love the ocean. Maybe you hate the snow. All hugely important factors, in my opinion.

    4. Rosie*

      Sounds about right! I’d have a couple different cover letters tailored for the locations your looking at. Another way is finding a job at a currently expanding company and trying to relocate internally. Several of my reports were working at our main site straight out of school and came out here when we opened the satellite location. It’s how I was able to relocate when I was more entry level too, places love someone who already knows their process to be involved with training up people at new sites and it can be a way to a quicker promotion.

    5. SciSplainer*

      Please pay close attention to the tips from folks in the GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives, and museums) fields, because some of the advice from other industries doesn’t apply to your situation. As mentioned elsewhere in comments, relocating for work is fairly common in GLAMs and you may not need to make a big deal about it in your applications. Do limit your search to places you want to live, but remember that there just aren’t a lot of positions in each region. Do ask your school to help you network. Remember that experience is what will appeal to employers – use your cover letter to show them how hiring you will benefit their org. Give examples of things you’ve done that are similar to the tasks in the job description (and yes, you can give examples of relevant schoolwork here). And be kind to yourself, because job hunting in GLAMs is a very difficult, miserable process that takes a lot of time and luck.

  38. anonymous for this*

    Alison, I’m a long-time reader and I love your advice. I have thought of you as a highly ethical person, but your response to this OP includes “fudge a little” as well as the disingenuous “And while I’m not encouraging you to misrepresent your situation, the reality is they’re unlikely to know if you do.” If you didn’t want to encourage it, you wouldn’t have mentioned it. If you’re going to encourage people to lie, you can’t get away with it by pairing it with “I’m not encouraging you to…” It’s like saying, “I’m not racist, but….”

    I’m surprised and disappointed.

    1. Important Moi*

      Actually attempting equate saying “not being a physical locale” to saying “I’m not racist, but… ” is completely inappropriate and wrong.

      1. anonymous for this*

        Yes, attempting to equate those things would be wrong. That’s not my point, though, as I think you know.

        To spell it out for you: saying “I’m not encouraging you to misrepresent your situation, but….” and saying “I’m not racist, but…” are similar constructions in that the speaker says one thing, then follows it up with a contradictory message.

          1. anonymous for this*

            Sure, but this one has the advantage of being something that we all know is an awful thing to say, and it’s parallel.

            That’s parallel in sentence and logic structure, not in content. I believe, as I believe you do, that racism is much worse than telling someone you live in a city you don’t live in.

        1. Calliope*

          No, it doesn’t track. “I’m not a racist but [racist thing]” negates the first part of the sentence. “I don’t recommend this but you probably wouldn’t get caught” does not because both parts can be true. You can think something is not a good idea and also not think it’s likely to be found out. Totally consistent.

          Also, sorry, I’m not going to get wound up about a recent grad slightly overselling their enthusiasm about a particular city that they are nevertheless happy to move to if they get a job.

          1. anonymous for this*

            I am also not wound up about it, but I do think it’s unethical to advise that – or to appear to be advising that – and it’s so different from Alison’s usual that it surprised me. Her comment below about how it was her editor’s idea makes sense.

            We will have to agree to disagree about whether Alison was actually advising that. To me, it reads as though she is. To you, she’s just writing a consistent sentence. She’s a workplace advice columnist, though.

          2. anonymous for this*

            And this again may be a difference of our readings of the advice, but it isn’t “slightly overselling their enthusiasm.” The advice, or what I’m reading as the advice, is to falsely claim they have connections in the area that they don’t have, like family or a fiance, or that they’ve visited multiple times. “Slightly overselling their enthusiasm” is exactly what one should do when applying for a job! Saying you love New Orleans when you really just like it pretty well is fine. Saying you’re excited to move there because of an imaginary fiance is a lie.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Actually I had this debate with my editor because I didn’t have that bit in there originally and she wanted to know whether an employer would know if someone fudged it. I said I wasn’t willing to tell people to do that, and she wanted an acknowledgement that one could in fact choose that approach, so it went in with my caveat that I don’t recommend it. It wasn’t my first choice but I also don’t think it’s the worst thing in the world to let people know how this stuff works and let them make their own choices. I do not think the racism comparison holds up.

      1. anonymous for this*

        Glad to hear you thought about it, but ultimately, your name is on it and that’s the takeaway.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yep, I stand by the way it was ultimately worded — I’m not encouraging it, but here’s the reality of it. People who need a job can make their own decision. I don’t think it’s a mortal sin. We’ll have to agree to disagree.

  39. Sam, Wise and Well*

    This might not be applicable for the LW, or for most people looking to apply for jobs out of state, but I still thought I’d share about my experience looking for a new job out of state.

    I had decided, for mostly personal reasons, that I absolutely was 100% going to move to a new area (out of the small town where I grew up), and had pretty much settled on a specific region/city. In addition, I was changing fields entirely, so was looking for general entry level work, and while I had some preferences, getting a job of some sort in the area was the main short term goal. I was not employed at the time, but did have some savings built up from previous recent employment (the savings were surely not unlimited though, so I was not keen to just let things drag out indefinitely). When I first started, I was listing my current address, which was 2 States away from the area in question, and also listed that I was moving to the area, I think I gave a month of the planned move too (even though my actual plans involved getting a job offer first). Despite casting a pretty wide net, I was getting next to nothing in responses for several weeks.

    I had previously visited the area to scope it out at the beginning of all this, during which I also had a 1st date with someone I had met on an online dating site,, who didn’t view my not even living in the area currently as a deal breaker, luckily. We hit it off better than even seemed reasonable continued to stay in contact, and after a few weeks of nothing on the job search, I asked if he minded if I listed his local address on my resume, and he agreed.

    So that’s what I did, and the responses to my job applications picked up. Hiring managers in these comments have expressed many valid reasons for being reluctant to consider out of State applications in general, especially for non specialized entry level type work, but I knew my specific situation, goals and motivation better than they could, so I decided to take away their ability to remove me from consideration for that particular reason. I did not require any relocation assistance, and since I was not working, and had savings built up, I knew that I could make the drive to come interview if given at least 24 hours notice, and could also move to start a job on short notice as well, and was very willing, even determined, to do these things.

    I did get an interview, and was offered a position, in relatively short order. There were no specific questions about where I lived during the interview (no particular reason for there to be) and I didn’t bring it up. Lived in a hotel temporarily when the job first started while I also apartment hunted, and then a few weeks later just submitted an address update with the employer to my new apartment.

    That was almost 7 years ago, and I’m still with the same company. The person who let me list his address is now my husband, and we bought a house together last year. Given that the moved turned out to be one of the very best decisions of my life, I have no regrets.

  40. ResuMAYDAY*

    One caveat to leaving off a location on your resume…a lot of ATS systems use your zip code as a data point. Employers who are looking to hire local candidates will program their ATS to weed out candidates within 50 miles (for example) from the work site.

  41. Listen up Fives, a Ten is Speaking*

    Just wanted to say hi and good luck from a fellow archivist who {very} recently moved for a new job. We all have to do it in this field- I was very lucky that my first job in the field was in my hometown (and city I went to grad school in) and I ended up working there for 6.5 years. But everyone else I know in the field has moved multiple times and it’s just expected that different repositories will be hiring from all over. I think the larger issue is your lack of experience, which is unfortunately a fact of life for this field. They hire people with 3 years experience for entry-level positions, that leaves very few places for recent grads to go. I wish you the best of luck! It’s hard out there for all of us.

  42. Anon in Canada*

    I’m glad to see that Alison finally acknowledges that most job applications are done through an ATS that will require an address. IIRC this was totally glossed over in all previous posts about long distance job hunting.

    However, another elephant in the room is still missing from this discussion: that if you’re currently employed, and that the job isn’t fully remote (which isn’t a thing in LW’s field), the prospective employer will know where you are, regardless of any gimmicks you use to try to hide your location or seem local. If you’re currently employed in Ottawa and are applying for jobs in Toronto, they’ll know you’re in Ottawa even if you don’t list an address or “borrow a friend’s address” in Toronto. In the latter case, it’s virtually certain that your application will be tossed, because the lie will be obvious and lying on your application is a huge no-no. So if you’re currently employed, there’s simply nothing that can be done to fudge your location.

    Saying that you’re definitely moving to a specific city in a specific timeline when really you’re not is disingenuous. An employer may very well tell you to “contact them once you’ve made the move” and you’re back at square one. Or you’ll submit another application after you supposedly should have moved, but haven’t, and they’ll know that the move wasn’t going to happen no matter what.

    Another thing: Alison constantly brings up “mentioning things in the cover letter”, probably because she reads them – but this is another elephant in the room: most employers don’t actually read cover letters, or read them after the resume. If they tossed your resume for being non-local, the cover letter (which may have reassured them) will never be read. And in my industry, 2 major employers use an ATS that is set up to not even accept a cover letter, and another one explicitly states that a cover letter are not sought even though the ATS in theory would accept one. So that’s a non-starter!

    1. trans_worker*

      I know that a few fields don’t place a lot of weight on cover letters but….it’s simply untrue that most employers don’t read cover letters. I’ve been on several hiring committees and we always read every cover letter of every candidate that makes it through the initial screen. A lot of times the cover letters are the determining factor for who gets an interview. And in most interviews where I’ve been the job-seeker, the interviewers reference my cover letter.

      1. Anon in Canada*

        “we always read every cover letter of every candidate that makes it through the initial screen.”

        This seems to partially confirm what I said though – those employers who do read “cover” letters still read the resume first, and do the first cut based on resume only. Only then do they read the “cover” letters of those who made it through the first cut. Therefore, if the resume had a red flag that caused the employer to reject the candidate in the first cut, the “cover” letter will never be read and whatever reassurances it contained will not help.

        1. trans_worker*

          By “initial screen” I mean the super basic, often automated screen that a lot of employers do, which only looks at whether the applicant meets the basic requirements of the job. In my experience, location is not a factor in the initial screen, so cover letters absolutely make a difference.

  43. StudentA*

    I haven’t had time read the comments, so apologies if this has been covered.

    Two things.

    Unless this is a physical job, keep your eyes open for remote jobs. I know you say jobs in your field aren’t remote, but many jobs that weren’t historically remote are now switching. There are exceptions such as for security reasons, physical jobs such as retail, etc. Second, you can try looking for a remote position that’s adjacent to your work. So if you are a retail buyer, do virtual customer service with a large company that might allow you to grow into an entry level position in buying.

  44. trans_worker*

    I second Alison’s recommendation to state a tangible reason why you want to relocate. I recently got an out of state job offer, and in my cover letter, I stated that I have friends and family in the area (which, is a bit of a stretch – I have two friends there and my partner has extended family there).

    Also – when I was in my last semester of grad school, I got a job offer over 2,000 miles away near a very popular city for my field. I was applying to jobs right in the city where I wanted to live and wasn’t getting anywhere. But, I was able to get a job less than an hour’s drive away. IMO it’s worth considering applying in the more far-flung corners of metro areas, especially if your target areas have robust transit.

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